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Wolves spirit shows City limits

If Manchester City want to be taken seriously as top four, let alone title, contenders, this is the sort of match they needed not only to win, but win convincingly.

It started promisingly, Emmanuel Adebayor scoring his first Premier League goal of the season, but then ran into a brick wall of their own construction, allowing Nenad Milijas and Dave Edwards to capitalise for Mick McCarthy's men, and leaving Roberto Mancini so hot under the collar he took off his infamous scarf.

The Italian has now seen his side lose two League matches in six days but this was, he admitted in an uncomfortable post-mortem, their worst performance of the season. And whereas he could blame last weekend's 3-0 loss to Arsenal on Dedryck Boyata's sending off after five minutes, this time Mancini was completely unable to enlighten anyone on why his team went into a tailspin.

"I can't understand," he said. "This is the worst game that we have played. A team like us can lose, it can happen. But we can't play like that for 70 minutes. We lost against Arsenal because we played with one player less, but today we didn't play well. That is the sort of game we must win. You must play all the game 150 per cent, not 50."

It is possible his players simply considered the match too easy. City fans will, like Mancini, be scratching their heads. Certainly, Carlos Tevez, nursing a thigh injury back in Argentina, was sorely missed.

Mario Balotelli, making his first league start, demonstrated explosive pace, but for a £24m striker what would one expect? For that sort of money you want iPod connectivity, cup holders, the works. Certainly an ability to score. "He needs to learn the League, and learn it quickly," Mancini said pointedly.

It just shows lashings of money are not enough (after all, Edwards cost only £675,000 from Luton in 2008). Football teams need spirit. "Without it, we would be history, that's for sure," said McCarthy.

"The season is very long so we can recover," added Mancini, in an attempt at reassurance. "We must find a solution. We have great team spirit."

It sounded good, but as he said it anyone looking out of the window would have seen his players departing Molineux, all in different cars. That's team spirit for you.


Sunday Independent